From tablescaping to sleep savvy: Top ideas to enjoy your home this summer 

We consult Irish interiors gurus and makers on everything from tablescaping to body-positive art and investing in our sleep  
From tablescaping to sleep savvy: Top ideas to enjoy your home this summer 

Laura Gaffney and Ciara Doyle, sisters and founders of Lil & Co Home.

Sisters Laura Gaffney and Ciara Doyle are clear on one key ingredient for the perfect summer party. The busy mums, who started an interiors business during the pandemic, in 2021, chorus: “Be prepared!”

They are the ideal go-to for entertaining at home — whether you want to drag the rugs and the gang al fresco, or peer out at the rays from behind the glazing.

“The more you plan ahead, the more you’ll be able to enjoy the time with your guests,” says Laura.

She and Ciara, co-founders of Lil & Co Home, name tablescaping as the other main ingredient in their recipe for successful hosting. “Summer is the perfect time for entertaining with family and friends and setting a beautiful table goes a long way to creating a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere,” says Ciara.

The Rustic jug from Lil & Co, €28.
The Rustic jug from Lil & Co, €28.

Noting that “often the fondest memories are made around the table”, Ciara adds: “When it comes to table styling, attention to detail can make all the difference, allowing your own personal style to run wild in an effortless and decorative way.”

Laura Gaffney and Ciara Doyle.
Laura Gaffney and Ciara Doyle.

Their approach is to make the setting look effortless with no strict rules. “Choose table linens, dinnerware, cutlery, vases, flowers, candles, and glassware that will create the inviting atmosphere you want to achieve through colour, texture and functionality,” says Laura.

Watercolour table runner, €34.50, Lil & Co.
Watercolour table runner, €34.50, Lil & Co.

“Start with a tablecloth or table runner to lay the foundation of your tablescape. During the summer, we love to use our watercolour print tablecloth (€109) with its subtle colours, but you also can’t go wrong with the crisp white tablecloth (€100) that can be used all year round.”

Ciara adds: “Create a centrepiece by adding flowers in a nice vase, if your table is big enough you can sprinkle smaller vases with flowers across the table to create a more interesting look.” Add height and depth with candles and pretty glassware. 

Cakestand by Lil & Co home, €38.40.
Cakestand by Lil & Co home, €38.40.

“Candles are always a must for us at a dinner table. They help to add different heights to the table but also, when lit they help set the mood and bring a warm inviting atmosphere through the soft lighting,” says Laura. 

“Add in layers, texture and colour with placemats and linen napkins to complete the look. Mix and match your ware, adding colours and materials.”

Alannah Monks, Oriana B.
Alannah Monks, Oriana B.

Colour code

Interior designer Alannah Monks, creative director of Oriana B, has this to say when I ask her for her advice on summer entertaining and tablescaping: “Go mad with colour!

“Play with everything from cloths and napkins, to crockery and the food itself.” 

Oriana B's teal melamine serving bowl, €25.
Oriana B's teal melamine serving bowl, €25.

Alannah's own vibrant summer tableware collection definitely has a holiday feel, with ceramic dinner sets and melamine bowls just begging for a starring role at summer mealtimes, indoors our out.

Oriana B's six-guest ceramic dinner set, 18 pieces, €125.
Oriana B's six-guest ceramic dinner set, 18 pieces, €125.

She adds: “We’re not accustomed to having weather worthy of Mediterranean colour and pattern so when the chance arises grab it with both hands and fill your table with playful patterns, bright hues, summer blooms and glasses filled with fruity sangria.” 

Michael Burke, sheep farmer and Woolow founder.
Michael Burke, sheep farmer and Woolow founder.

Invest in your rest

Counting sheep took so much longer than usual when we chased those Zs during the recent heatwave. But strange as it may seem, a wool pillow could be what we all need to nod off.

Galway farmer Michael Burke invented the Woolow — an organic, hypoallergenic, and chemical-free pillow featuring natural wool fibres and covered in quality cotton. “The pillow is wonderfully breathable, keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. Wool is clinically proven to prevent germs and allergens, making it a must-have for those with hay fever or dust allergies,” he says.

The Woolow.
The Woolow.

Michael, of Dunblaney, Dunmore, lives on his family farm where sheep have been raised for more than 200 years.

As a child, he helped with the family flock and that included helping shearing.

“And my dad took some of the wool from the sheep that I sheared and made a pillow out of it,” he says. “That was the best pillow I ever had. It gave just the right amount of support, and because it’s a natural fibre it regulates temperature. I didn’t realise all that back then, I just loved that pillow.”

As an adult, Michael worked for more than 25 years in the healthcare sector. “We spend over one-third of our lives sleeping with our airways closest to our pillow and I realised there was a real need for that old pillow I loved so much,” he adds.

Michael converted the farm to being completely organic. He’s passionate about biodiversity, renewable resources, and sustainability.

“We spend more than a third of our lives in bed, so investing in a good night’s sleep is vital,” says Michael Burke.

Woolow pillows retail at €60 and €70 for a lavender-scented version. The king-size version is €70. There is a 50-night free trial.

Clíodhna Doherty.
Clíodhna Doherty.

Art of positivity

Meet the Irish artist paving the way for body positivity: Newry native Clíodhna Doherty set up Clíodhna by Clíodhna Doherty, an Irish art collective with a mission to empower women and spread body positivity through an artistic form, with all artwork coming to life in a purpose-built studio — uniquely placed directly on the North/South border.

Clíodhna, 27, says she wants “to promote and celebrate the female form” in every vibrantly coloured piece she produces — while also providing women with a creative and empowering outlet, encouraging them to share their stories through art.

Art by Clíodhna Doherty.
Art by Clíodhna Doherty.

Committed to creating a sustainable, vegan offering, Clíodhna does not use black paint, instead opting for vibrant, vegan colours, to ensure the brand stays true to its ethos, meaning any black accents are digitally added.

The brand also works on a made-to-order service, therefore cutting down on landfill waste and reducing carbon emissions.

“My aim has always been to create Ireland’s first artistic brand that empowers women through the medium of art,” she says.

“I have been involved in the creative arts sector for many years and am delighted to see the support received thus far, and cannot wait to continue pushing my artistic voice both on and off-line over the coming years.”

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